[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]H[/su_dropcap]appy Holidays! ‘Tis the season for spending time with family, eating Grandma’s honey-baked ham and giving gifts to loved ones. Oh, and stressing yourself out.
It’s no secret that while the holiday season brings joy, it inevitably drags along an abundance of stress, anxiety and depression. At a time when you’re supposed to be feeling cheerful, negative emotions may stem from a variety of demands – shopping, baking, cleaning, entertaining and more.
This holiday stress can be minimized with some practical tips that will allow you to actually enjoy the holidays.
It’s simple, yet many doubt the effectiveness of taking a moment to focus on your breath. Deep breathing, in particular, encourages full oxygen exchange, which can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure. Breathing exercises can be done anywhere and there are many online guides that can help you.
2. Acknowledge your feelings.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that it is important to realize you don’t need to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season. Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or simply can’t make it home to be with family and friends, it’s okay to feel sad. Expressing your feelings, rather than keeping them bottled up, is a much healthier practice.
3. Be realistic.
No holiday celebration is perfect. Children breaking ornaments or dogs eating your casserole will not ruin your holiday, but rather create memories that can be laughed about in the future. The American Psychological Association suggests having realistic expectations and viewing any missteps as “opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience.” If financial barriers are causing you stress, remind your loved ones that the holidays are not about expensive gifts. As the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness.
4. Maintain healthy habits.
Overindulgence and lack of regular sleep and exercise can add to the stress and guilt you feel around the holidays. Many use the holiday season as an excuse to fall into unhealthy habits, but maintaining healthy practices will help you manage your holiday stress. The Mayo Clinic suggests getting plenty of sleep, choosing healthy snacks at holiday parties and incorporating physical activity into each day. Take a walk with a friend or go on a family hike to spend time with loved ones.
5. Seek support.
Opening up to friends and family about your stress, anxiety or depression may help you work toward a solution for combatting these negative feelings. If you continue to have these feelings, however, seek professional help to prevent any damage to your overall well-being.